Center For Food

-Lawmakers, advocates highlight hunger solutions

NJAHC joined legislators and advocates to highlight a package of bills that will fight childhood hunger.

Under the bills, more New Jersey children would receive school breakfast and summer meals, while increasing federal dollars flowing into schools and communities to fight childhood hunger.

The measures were highlighted yesterday during a Statehouse news conference held by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, along with legislative sponsors. NJAHC Director Adele LaTourette spoke at the event.

View the video.

One measure would increase the number of children participating in the federal School Breakfast Program, while another would boost the number of children served meals during the summer. Together, the bills have the potential to bring tens of millions more in federal meal reimbursements back to New Jersey, advocates said.

“Thousands of New Jersey children face hunger each and every day,” said Adele LaTourette, director, New Jersey Anti-Hunger Coalition. “These measures will bring more federal dollars into New Jersey to feed hungry children, removing a major obstacle to learning and improving the health and well-being of thousands of New Jersey children.”

“While New Jersey has made great strides toward serving breakfast and summer meals to more children, we know that tens of thousands of children are still missing out on this essential nutrition,” said Cecilia Zalkind, president & CEO, Advocates for Children of New Jersey. “We commend Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and state legislators for making childhood hunger a top priority.”

The two organizations co-lead the New Jersey Food for Thought Campaign, which works to end childhood hunger by increasing participation in federally-funded child nutrition programs.

“Breakfast after the bell will provide students across New Jersey with access to nutritious meals in schools,” said Sheila Nix, president of Tusk/Montgomery Philanthropies. “Far too many New Jersey students go hungry throughout the course of the school day, which impacts their ability to learn. The progress we’re making in New Jersey builds on the passage of similar legislation in New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Washington state.”

Here is a summary of the measures.

S-1894/A-3506 would require high-poverty schools to serve breakfast after the bell. The bill could benefit as many as 150,000 more students, according to an ACNJ analysis of state data.

S-1895/A-3503 would require every school district where at least one school qualifies for the Community Eligibility Provision, but is not implementing it, to report the reasons for not participating to the Departments of Agriculture and Education. This federal provision allows schools to feed all students for free and reduce paperwork associated with school breakfast and lunch.

S-1896/A-3502 would require school districts to submit quarterly reports detailing how many students are denied school meals because of unpaid meal fees. This will help to combat “lunch shaming” in New Jersey schools.

S-1897/A-3504 would require school districts with at least 50 percent low-income children to participate in the federal Summer Food Service Program, if no other organization is acting as a summer meals sponsor within the school district.

All four bills have cleared the full Senate and await action in the Assembly.